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  • Special Presentation : MONSTERS IN THE COSMIC SEA

Special Presentation : MONSTERS IN THE COSMIC SEA

  • March 04, 2020
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Roper Mountain Science Center -David H. Wilkins Conference Center


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Black hole tales from the edge of space and time

Abstract:  It has been known since the 1700s that a simple consequence of gravity is the possible existence of objects whose gravitational field is so strong even light would not be able to escape from the surface.  In the early 1900s, Einstein revolutionized gravitational theory and produced the modern mathematical description of what astronomers now call a "black hole," and they have since become an almost universally accepted part of modern astrophysics.

In this talk we'll take a voyage out from our little corner of the Cosmic Sea, mariners in search of the biggest monsters known: supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.  We'll talk about current evidence for the existence of black holes and discuss what new observations of the Universe will allow us to discover about these exotic objects using gravitational waves.  We'll ask what will happen on an imaginary voyage near the event horizon of a black hole, and talk about what modern gravitational theory predicts will happen to you (HINT: our poor cosmic voyagers are destined to have a very bad day!).

Speaker:  Shane L. Larson

Shane Larson is a research associate professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is the Associate Director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy.  He works in gravitational wave astronomy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and the future space-based detector LISA.

Shane grew up in eastern Oregon, and was an undergraduate at Oregon State University where he received his B.S. in Physics in 1991.  He received an M.S. in Physics (1994) and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1999) from Montana State University.   He is an award winning teacher, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Shane is also an avid amateur astronomer, observing with two homebuilt Dobsonian telescopes, named EQUINOX and COSMOS MARINER.  Shane contributes regularly to a public science blog at, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi .

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